GSA Makes Strides; Older Americans Act Not So Much
+ The GSA, a US organization that comprises youth meeting together in school settings with an adult mentor, is changing its name from Gay-Straight Alliance to the Genders and Sexualities Alliance in order to be more inclusive of the youth in its ranks. They’ve also adopted a new tagline: “trans and queer youth uniting for racial and gender justice.” Their new language is inclusive of multiple genders and sexual orientations, appears to decenter straight allyship (although straight allies can still join GSAs), and directly engaging with the multiple intersections of marginalization that the youth who need it experience:
Our former tagline, “empowering youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools,” best described the work that youth leaders were doing in their GSA clubs when it was initially created. However, as social movements evolve, so have the youth leaders who comprise today’s GSA clubs. GSA activists still fight transphobia and homophobia in schools, but the criminalization of trans and queer youth of color has led to widespread school push out that calls them to do work beyond the boundaries of their school campuses. GSA leaders are also prioritizing intersectional work that fights against racism and classism as much as it does against transphobia and homophobia. The new tagline, “trans and queer youth uniting for racial and gender justice,” helps us communicate that.
At the same time that we’re seeing acknowledgement of the needs of LGBT youth, LGBT elders aren’t being recognized by the systems ostensibly trying to support them. This month, Congress reauthorized the Older Americans Act, a bill originally enacted in 1965 that supports a range of services for older Americans, including meals on wheels, legal services, elder abuse prevention and more. Unfortunately, the reauthorized bill didn’t include recommended LGBT-specific amendments. SAGE, Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, notes that these proposed amendments were crucial given that LGBT elders “face higher rates of poverty, pronounced social isolation, and less access to health care.”
“SAGE thanks Senator Bennet and Representatives Murphy, Bonamici and Deutch for their vocal support and visionary leadership on behalf of LGBT older Americans. SAGE is devoted to improving the lives of all LGBT Americans and we will continue to draw attention to the unique needs of LGBT older adults and advocate aggressively so that all relevant federal laws and programs address their needs and enable them to age with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
Law & Order
+ Three people have been charged in relation to Flint’s water crisis: Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby, two state environmental quality officials, and Michael Glasgow, a Flint water official, face felonies like tampering with evidence and misconduct in office.
+ A new update to the US’s energy policy would designate biomass — like trees — as “carbon neutral” energy sources, since plants can regrow (eventually). Environmentalists are concerned that this will incentivize companies to turn to cutting down forests for energy to “reduce” their carbon footprint, and de-incentivize them from looking for more renewable sources of energy.
+ Maryland has joined New Hampshire in doing away with “subminimum wage” for disabled workers, an employment practice in which nonprofits pay disabled people just a few dollars or even cents per hour. Maryland wants to not only pay disabled people fairly, but develop “competitive, integrated workplaces” instead of having disabled employees work in separate “sheltered workshops.”
+ The Missouri House of Representatives is putting off a vote on a “religious liberties” bill — there are different forms of the bill being considered, some of which are restricted to “pastor protection” and some of which extend to things like florists not serving gay weddings. Committee members cited legal memos they had received saying that the bill could be unconstitutional for their decision to delay.
+ The governor of Utah has signed a resolution declaring pornography a public health hazard which “perpetuates a sexually toxic environment.”
Politicians and Elections
+ What happened with New York’s primary on Tuesday? I don’t really even know myself — although I do know that the New York Attorney General is opening an investigation — but luckily there are lots of people on the internet to explain it to us.
+ Washington Post thinks the tide is slowly turning regarding Merrick Garland’s nomination.
+ A piece on Pennsylvania’s weird delegate allocation rules, and how the Pennsylvania primary might impact Donald Trump’s chance at the nomination because of that.
+ Peter Liang, the rookie police officer who killed unarmed Akai Gurley in 2014, will not see jail time but is instead sentenced to five years probation and 800 hours of community service.
+ James Dixon has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the murder of Islan Nettles, a black trans woman.
+ The World Policy Journal has done analysis on global trends of the racial demographics of a nation’s population and the racial demographics of its prisons, highlighting the “stark racial inequalities” in incarceration.
+ On the severity of police brutality in Egypt.
+ How New York’s new law which bans employees from asking about felony convictions as part of a job application or doing background checks until after a conditional job offer is made is changing lives.
+ In 2005, plainclothes police officers opened fire on unarmed people fleeing in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The officers were sentenced to decades in prison in 2011; this week, they struck a deal from prison, and their sentences have been reduced to 3-12 years.
+ It’s well-documented that big sports matches correlate with a sharp rise in domestic violence reports. In Scotland, police last weekend removed men who had previously been domestic violence offenders from their homes in anticipation of an Old Firm soccer match.
“The basic research says that the only thing that can change abusive men’s behavior is accountability and monitoring,” [Barry Goldstein, a domestic violence expert] told ThinkProgress. “Men might see this as a point of consequence if they don’t get to enjoy the game, and so that might serve as incentive for them not to do those things.”
However, a program like this cannot be successful at addressing violence against women in the long run unless it is part of a more comprehensive plan — after all, even if they are detained during the game, most abusers will eventually return home after court, where they will continue to be a danger.
+ If you are in the US, you are likely already aware that (horrifyingly) people who need abortions often have to go on epic road trips to reach someplace where they can access one. You may not have known that that’s also the situation for sexual assault victims in rural areas.
“The report’s authors argue that training for examiners in each state is limited and hospitals are sometimes reluctant to cover the cost of the programs,”writes the Washington Post’s Danielle Paquette. “The pay for examiners, meanwhile, is often lower than typical Emergency Room staffer salaries. The hours also tend to be long and unpredictable—conditions that contribute to culture of burnout.” After surveying Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Wisconsin, the DOA reports that many rural rape victims are forced to drive hours to receive a rape kit. “If you’re in the mountains in the winter, and you’re told you have to go somewhere else, that can be a big barrier. Some victims never get tested,” states the study’s lead author, Katherine Iritani.
+ Senator Gillibrand has been trying to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act, which would give civilian courts, not just military ones, a say in which sexual assault cases go to trial. It’s aimed at circumventing conflict of interest within military justice; “subordinate officers don’t want to report sexual assaults to their commanders for fear of retaliation.” Navy Admiral James Winnefeld told a Senate panel that actually, military courts were more likely to pursue justice in sexual assault cases than civilian ones in an effort to discourage them from pursuing the bill; however, a Freedom of Information Act request shows that’s not true.
But there’s no indication in the records of any direct intervention by commanders in the 93 cases or others listed in the documents. Each appears to have followed the steps mandated by the military’s legal code: Senior officers cannot refer cases to a general court-martial unless uniformed attorneys known as staff judge advocates have first advised them that the evidence warrants the charges. So the argument that excluding commanders from the decision to prosecute will mean less justice for victims is a flawed one, according to proponents of Gillibrand’s bill.
Research & Data
+ A study looked at how cis Americans react to ads featuring openly trans people, and the results are really interesting! The majority of people responding were ok with trans inclusion in ads, noting that it “reflected reality” and/or that it was “brave,” but 70% “suggested that other people might prefer not to see transgender people in ads, with 49 percent admitting they don’t know why brands feel the need to show trans people in their ads.” Also interesting is that 93% indicated that they know what the term transgender means, but that they weren’t necessarily correct, “when quizzed on specifics many fewer really understand what it means.”
+ The Obama administration sent a letter to every Medicaid director of every state in the US warning them that trying to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood is probably illegal, and so it would be great if they didn’t try to do it.
The letter, sent to each state’s Medicaid director, cautions lawmakers that “providing the full range of women’s health services… shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.” In other words, the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services in addition to other women’s health services is not legal grounds to cut it off from Medicaid funding. It stipulates that the only justifiable reason to remove a provider’s Medicaid funding is if that provider isn’t able to bill for or perform covered medical services.
+ The Republicans in the House of Representatives are claiming they’ve found proof that abortion providers sell baby parts: it’s actually a single, unauthenticated flyer which they claim is from some kind of tissue procurement company (what kind of tissue? There are lots used for research!) that touts partnering with it as “financially profitable.” This is absurd, and there is no way to tell whether the flyer in question is even real — but don’t worry, anti-choice organizations are already using this as a jumping off point for made-up statistics like “it’s been proven that 1 in 5 abortion facilities were in fact selling baby parts.” Neat!
+ The co-founder of the Trans Lifeline suicide support hotline says that the volume of calls to the lifeline doubled after North Carolina passed HB2.
+ As you have perhaps heard by now, Harriet Tubman will be added to future versions of the US $20 bill, although Andrew Jackson, noted slaveowner and perpetrator of genocide against indigenous American people, will remain on the other side of it. The $10 and $5 bill will also be redesigned: the 10 will keep Alexander Hamilton but also include Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul; the 5 will include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt.
+ Britain’s Foreign Office has issued a warning for travelers about North Carolina and Mississippi in the US.
+ In what appears to be an inspiring prom story, a teen lesbian couple elected to prom court at their school will be allowed to be ‘prom princesses’ together, despite initial indications that the school would make one of them be a prom ‘prince.’
+ An interview with Congresswoman Katherine Clark on online harassment:
One thing we have come to realize is, there are many good laws on the books already, at the state and federal level. But there’s a real disconnect between having those laws and having them enforced, because people aren’t fluent in what it means to have to be on Twitter for your job, or that you make a living writing blog posts that turn into appearances and other types of income coming in. And we have had victims who are talking to very well-intentioned local law enforcement who want to be helpful and who said, “We don’t know what Twitter is. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
+ Target says that its employees and customers should use the bathrooms that correspond to their true gender in its stores.
+ Curt Schilling, former All-Star MLB pitcher and ESPN commentator, was fired from ESPN for sharing a virulently transmisogynistic meme on Facebook with additional transmisogynistic commentary.